December 17, 2014

Fall COPH graduates shine with final MPH project presentations

Culminating Experience Project Presenters Kenneth Thompson, Kaitlin Fitzpatrick, Jake Coffey, Nicole Nash and Bryan Mader

Left to right: Kenneth Thompson, Kaitlin Fitzpatrick, Jake Coffey, Nicole Nash, Bryan Mader

Culminating Experience Project Presenters Alex Handfinger, Jenna Rhodes, Jarred Kibbey, Ashley Richison

Alex Handfinger, Jenna Rhodes, Jarred Kibbey, Ashley Richison

Last week, the nine fall 2014 graduates of the Master in Public Health (MPH) degree program at the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health presented their final projects. The projects reflect the diversity of their interests as well as that of public health, a vastly diverse, multi-disciplinary field. Projects integrated at least two public health disciplines. They covered topics as different as access to health care by formerly incarcerated individuals to Arkansas farmers’ interest in participating in the farm-to-school program based at Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, the aim of which is to increase children’s consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Here is a list of the new grads by degree program, titles of their projects and the public health disciplines that were integrated in their projects.   Congratulations to the new grads!


James (Jake) Coffey. Community-Academic Practice Partnership Development – Adopting a Community-based Model of Health Care for Recently Released Arkansas Prisoners. He brought together stakeholders concerned about the issue and provided leadership for a coalition whose purpose is to reach understanding about how to address critical lack-of-access issues affecting this marginalized population. (Health Behavior & Health Education, Health Policy & Management)

Kaitlin Fitzpatrick. Nabholz Construction Wellness Program. She consolidated data from the company’s employee incentive program to improve healthy behaviors; developed a plan for analyzing the data and conducted an analysis to understand program’s effectiveness. (Health Behavior & Health Education, Health Policy & Management)

Bryan Mader. Determining Readiness among Local Area Farmers to Participate in Farm to School Activities. (Health Behavior & Health Education and Health Policy & Management). He conducted an evaluation for the Arkansas Grow Healthy farm-to-school program to understand the effectiveness of various formats for communicating with farmers to assess their readiness to participate in the program and gain understanding about how the program could better serve farmers. (Health Behavior & Health Education, Health Policy & Management)

Ashley Richison. Integrated Pest Management and Chemical Use Reduction in the Home: Middle School Level Curriculum Development. She created a 10-day curriculum for grades 4-9 that aligns with national and state science education standards. The curriculum will be freely available to teachers in Arkansas and nationally through the COPH website, teacher and STEM education listservs, and to school districts and the Environmental Protection Agency website. (Environmental & Occupational Health, Health Behavior & Health Education, Health Policy & Management)

Kenneth (Kent) Thompson. Agreement among Paper and Electronic Data Collection Methods. He compared reliability of data collected on IPads versus paper forms and created a mobile server for use with a network of tablets that could be used in rural communities where there is no Internet access. His project demonstrated the reliability and cost-effectiveness of electronic data collection using this approach, which can be utilized in public health programs serving remote areas. (Biostatistics, Health Behavior & Health Education)


Jarred Kibbey. Pediatric Asthma and Medical-Legal Partnership Intervention in Arkansas. He compared Arkansas’ housing laws and rates of asthma in children with those of other states. Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalizations under age 15 and can be triggered by substandard housing conditions. Arkansas is the only state without laws that empower and protect tenants in cases of landlord negligence. He wrote a report about the economic costs of pediatric asthma in Arkansas and proposed changes to state housing law. (Health Policy & Management, Epidemiology, Law)


Nicole Nash. Health Literacy and Patient Centered Communication in Primary Care Practice. She conducted a literature review on patient-centered communication in primary care and associated U.S. policies, programs and laws, and wrote a report on recommendations for improvement in clinical practice settings as well as medical training to address low health literacy, a problem that affects 35% of the US population and contributes to poor health outcomes, particularly for disadvantaged populations.  (Health Behavior & Health Education, Health Policy & Management)


Alex Handfinger. Strategic Plan for the Arkansas Local Food Network. He conducted qualitative and quantitative research with diverse stakeholders to inform a needs assessment and identify strategic priorities for this small, grassroots non-profit. As a result, gaps in the leadership team were identified as the first issue before moving forward with strategic planning. (Health Policy & Management, Health Behavior & Health Education, Epidemiology)

Jenna Rhodes. North Little Rock Jump Start Community Capacity Building. She established a community development coalition for the Levy and Park Hill neighborhoods and led capacity-building efforts to foster economic development in the two districts. She then produced a report on the work of the coalition and their recommendations. (Health Policy & Management, Environmental & Occupational Health)